Auckland has strengthened its yacht racing and major events credentials with the announcement that the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean race will stopover in the New Zealand city. The news brings the total number of cities involved to ten – eight stops plus the start port of Alicante and the finish port of Galway.
Coming weeks after Auckland hosted a festival of sail which included a boat show and the Louis Vuitton Trophy, the confirmation of the city as a stopover on the Volvo Ocean Race is reward for a continued investment in the sport.
Volvo Ocean Race CEO, Knut Frostad said:
“The people of Auckland have an immense appreciation of sailing, and the Volvo Ocean Race in particular. Many of the world’s best-known sailors are from New Zealand, and we are proud to bring the race back to the City of Sails, where we will be sure of a huge reception.”
Auckland’s selection as the port of choice and return to the race route was welcomed by Mayor John Banks.
“This event is a great fit with Auckland’s maritime location and of significant economic benefit for our city. Auckland has a proud history associated with this event and we look forward to welcoming the fleet and many spectators to our city once again.”
Volvo veteran David Endean spoke for a number of New Zealand-based Volvo sailors when he said he was “very proud” that the race was returning to Auckland. Endean, an Auckland native, has competed in three races. He said:
“I’m proud Auckland gets to show Volvo and the rest of the world what they can do as a city and as hosts for the Volvo Ocean Race, and I’m looking forward to what Volvo can produce for Aucklanders to watch. It was quite a fight for Auckland to get the stopover. There was competition from Wellington and competition from a couple of Australian ports so everyone is very excited, especially from the city side of things. Auckland is buzzing – it’s got a couple of really big events over the next few years and the pinnacle of the end of those events is going to be the Volvo Ocean Race.”
The announcement of Auckland balances up the race to give something back to traditionalists who have grumbled about the lack of racing in the Southern Ocean and diversions away from the traditional race route for commercial reasons. The ‘early’ announcement of the stops should give host cities time to make the most of the opportunities provided by hosting the race.